Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool welcomed Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United to Anfield for their first Premier League match of 2024 on Monday night (January 1). The Reds took a while to get going, but buoyed by a cool brace from their talisman Mohamed Salah, they eventually cruised to a comfortable 4-2 victory. The Matchday 20 victory over the Magpies allowed the Anfield outfit to open up a three-point lead over second-placed Aston Villa.
Mohamed Salah Goes From Despair To Delight In 22 Minutes
Liverpool started on the front foot but had to wait for 12 minutes to lodge their first effort on target. Trent Alexander-Arnold found Darwin Nunez with an excellent pass. The striker played a little one-two with Salah before letting fly. Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka reacted superbly to parry it. Ten minutes later, Liverpool won a penalty following Sven Botman’s foul on Luis Diaz inside the area.
Liverpool’s designated penalty kicktaker, Salah, stepped up to the plate but failed to find the back of the net. Dubravka leaped to his left and made a reassuring stop to keep Salah from wheeling away in celebration. The Egyptian King was hardly visible in the remainder of the first half but bounced back with aplomb in the second 45.
Only four minutes into the second half, Salah deservedly put Liverpool in front, getting on the end of a sweeping counter-attack to claim his 150th Premier League goal for the club. Nunez, who claimed the assist, exhibited admirable composure to wait for Salah to arrive before playing a square pass to him. The Magpies responded swiftly, equalizing through Alexander Isak only five minutes later, but the Merseysiders were in no mood to drop points on the first day of the year.
Mohamed Salah in the Premier League so far this season:
◉ Most G/A
◉ Most xG/A
◉ Most shots on target
◉ Most Big Chances scored
◉ Most Big Chances created
◉ Most open-play chances created
◉ Most touches in opp. box
◎ =Most goals
◎ =Most assists
Mo(st) Salah. 👑 pic.twitter.com/NYZ8JaD7I2
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 1, 2024
In the 74th minute, Diogo Jota set up Curtis Jones for the go-ahead goal before Salah added an assist to his goal in the 78th minute. The 31-year-old’s delivery was a thing of beauty, as he showcased his immaculate control of the ball with an outside-the-boot cross from the right wing. From six yards out, Cody Gakpo did well to direct the ball into the bottom-right corner.
Sven Botman pulled another goal back for Newcastle in the 81st minute, but a Salah penalty in the 86th minute put the game to bed.
Liverpool Will Be Without Salah For Up To Six Weeks
Salah has been in superb form for Liverpool this season. The former AS Roma ace has featured in 27 games in all competitions, scoring 18 times and providing nine assists. He has started every single game in the Premier League, playing 97% of total available minutes. The winger has been the driving force behind the Merseysiders’ title challenge this season, but now, Klopp must find a way to win without his top man.
Salah is traveling to Ivory Coast to represent his country Egypt in the African Cup Of Nations (AFCON). If things go swimmingly for the Egyptians, Salah could miss six weeks of soccer with Liverpool. The 19-time English champions are set to play a minimum of eight games in that period, including one FA Cup game with Arsenal and a two-legged EFL Cup semi-final against Fulham. They must also find a way to keep winning in the English top flight, as a slip-up at this stage could allow title aspirants Aston Villa, Manchester City, and Arsenal to pounce.
Manchester City have already proven their mettle this season by coping with Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne’s long-term absences. It will be interesting to see how Liverpool fare in their acid test.